Cold Weather Safety - Prep Your Pets

New England’s seasonal weather is famed for its unpredictability and sometimes extreme conditions. While many views throughout our region are fit for a postcard during any season, New Englanders have to take extra precautions when it comes to severe weather, especially those with companion animals.

Household Hazards

Anti-freeze being poured into car

Spilled antifreeze can pose a serious risk to your pet’s health if ingested directly or licked off their paws. Antifreeze tastes sweet and can be appealing to some animal companions, so it’s important that it is stored away from their reach and spills are cleaned up right away.

Firestarter logs and winter plants such as poinsettias can also be appealing to pets and should be kept out of reach to avoid any contact or ingestion.

Looking Out for Feral Friends

Feral cat inside car engine compartment
Feral (wild) cats who live outdoors and are not social with people are experts at finding warm, dry places to ride out storms and cold weather. Sometimes, those warm places are in the cozy confines under the hood of your car. To avoid serious or fatal injury to a hiding cat, knock on your car’s hood and take a look around the engine compartment and wheel wells before starting it up. This quick check could save a life. If you are aware of or caring for feral (wild) cats in your community or if you see kittens outside, contact Dakin’s Kitten Street Team right away.

Managing Outdoor Trips

Dog wearing a coat in the snow

Some dogs would benefit from wearing a coat or sweater to help keep them warm on outdoor walks. Choose garments with reflective strips to enhance safety. While on walks, keep your dog away from frozen ponds or rivers, as they sometimes venture out onto thin ice and risk falling through.

After a quick walk or bathroom break outside, dry your dog’s fur with a clean towel and make sure all snow and sidewalk salt is wiped from their paws. Some sidewalk salts that melt snow can cause irritation and chemical burns when in contact with paw pads and can be toxic if licked off and ingested.

Even if you keep your dog in a fenced yard, be careful that there aren’t any significant accumulations of snow piles near the fence. Dogs can climb up on snowbanks and jump over the fence and escape.

Cats who typically have access to the outdoors should be kept inside during snowstorms and other events involving frigid temperatures.

Tolerance to cold varies from pet to pet based on many factors including breed, overall health, and age. Pay close attention to your pet’s body language when spending time outdoors during cold weather. Both cats and dogs are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. Dog breeds with thicker coats such as huskies are bred for colder climates and have a higher tolerance to low temperatures, but no pet should be left outside for long periods in weather that is below freezing.

If you are concerned about an animal left outside during a low-temperature period or storm, contact special humane law enforcement for assistance.

Pet Preparedness

White and black cat sitting next to carrier

Snow and ice can hide familiar scents that your pet may use to find their way back home. Ensure your pets are wearing appropriately sized collars with current ID and contact information. A microchip can help reunite you with your lost pet if they are found and brought to a veterinary hospital, shelter, or animal control center. Make sure your contact information on your pet’s microchip is current.

Extreme weather carries the threat of power outages. Keep an emergency kit handy and include your pet in your preparedness plans. When severe weather is forecast, confirm you have enough food, water, and medication on hand for your pet and yourself for at least five days.

Being aware and prepared during bouts of severe weather can prevent illness and save lives. Once you’re prepared for the weather, you can focus on what’s most important – cuddling up with your furry companion, enjoying snow days, and spending quality time with your best friend.

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